Mountain Road

The other day Henry and I were sitting on the floor playing with a motley collection of matchbox cars.  It suddenly dawned on us that these cars had been cooped up for far too long.  What they really needed was to go for a trip on an open road, get of town, take a road trip, see the country and drive over some hills.  It was then that our next creations was born……

What you need: One big cardboard box, one cereal box, scissors, paint (black, green, white), glue, sticky tape, black pen/ marker

Step one: Flatten out the cardboard box and draw your mountain (ours is approx 20cm from the centre base to the mountain top and 38cm edge to edge at the base). Cut out this shape which will form the mountain side.  Trace and cut a second mountain side .  They should be the exactly the same in size.   With the remaining cardboard, cut out some road panels.  We used the lid/flaps of the box (approx 12cm in width and long enough to provide a little bit of road on either side of the mountain – our road is 100 cm long).

Step two: With all the bits cut out, it’s ready to paint and Henry doesn’t need to be asked twice!  He was there eagerly waiting with paint brush in hand and oodles of black paint.  He took off painting the road pieces.  We placed these out in the sun for a quick dry and then, using white paint, Henry added a white dotted line down the middle to make the lanes.  Then, using clear tape we pieced the sections together.  The road is now complete.

Step three: Paint the mountain side.  We didn’t have any green paint so we mixed blue and yellow and got ourselves a lovely mossy green.  We placed these pieces out in the sun to dry.

Step four: When all the pieces are dry, find the centre of the road (if the length of the road was folded in half) and attach it to the top middle of one mountain side, taping on the inside.  Attach the rest of the road to this side of the mountain.

Do the same for the other side – starting in the top centre then working down each side.

Some notes….

The finished product really looks fantastic and money can’t buy the quiet satisfaction you get from making your own toy, avoiding the toy shop isles and all that plastic.  Guaranteed, your little munchkin will love it just as much.

Fixing it all together was the most tricky part and you may think of a better way. Although it was finicky, it’s held together really well after weeks of play and Henry still enjoys taking his cars out on the open road after kindergarten.

As Father’s day approached, Henry and I started our annual scheming.  Our chatterings usually took place after story time, in hushed tones just loud enough so that Dan heard our mumbles, successfully planting the seeds that something sneaky was underway.

Our offering to Dan this year was a little song that we wrote and recorded (using glock, voice and mono synth) with accompanying video clip.   In the days leading up, you could find me snapping away as we danced in costumes, wrote melodies and words to describe our big, big love, made play dough hearts, built words with blocks and cut out paper letters to make a banner as colourful as a rainbow.

With the pictures from the story board, we made a panoramic frieze for Dan’s worker-bee station, machine sewing all the pictures from the story board together.

So here’s the finished product that made our grown man cry with happiness.  Stay tuned for 14 seconds of Otis’ chuckles at the end as they are truly contagious.

Why did we go to such lengths?  Because D is a such fine Dad, deserving of a marching band, dancing bears, sky writers and so much more…..maybe next year.

p.s   Writing lyrics with a four year old is hilarious.  I plan to use Henry’s lyrics for all my songs in the future…no more hunching over blank pages for me.

Hooray.

Oh my….I am in a haze today after seeing the wonderful Jonsi at The Palace in Melbourne last night.  The entire band was phenomenal and it was a tre romantic eve with my lovely.  I have spent the afternoon tinkering on the piano inspired by the melodies and harmonies of last night’s performance.

When I was pregnant with my first little munchkin, I used to play Sigur Ros to my growing belly.  Recently, we were listening to a Sigur album and the track Snefn-g-englar came on (I had to refer to the I-Pod for the track name – one of the challenges of not speaking Icelandic).  I told Henry that I used to play him this song when he was in my tummy.  Henry answered “I remember. I loved it so much and I would sing along so loudly, I’d be screaming.”

It seems everyone has a Sigur Ros moment and this is mine.

Here is a picture of Henry in feathers not unlike Jonsi’s.  This is from a series taken by my beautiful and oh so talented niece Hailey Moroney.  You can check out her blog here

Alien Friend


Winter is here and after braving a chilly Melbourne morning where we tackled an out of control flower bed, Henry and I headed indoors to take shelter from the wind. It was a perfect time to try out this new crafty idea…

What you need: Foil, glue, small cardboard box, white cardboard, black marker, scissors and an old sock – preferably red.

Getting started: The cardboard box will become our Alien friend’s head so we need to cut out a rectangular mouth.  I don’t know about other 4 year old’s but mine is OBSESSED with scissors.  Despite getting him his very own little person’s (safe) ones, he has no interest in them and only has eyes for the dangerous kind.  I managed to convince him that I was to be in charge of all cutting and he was in charge of the glue stick.  I hope the UN get wind of my fine negotiation skills.

Back to the box….Cut the bottom flaps off the so that there is a neat opening at the base.  Once this step and the rectangle hole for the mouth is made, we are ready to cover the box in foil.

Next….

I cut two sheets of foil, enough to cover each front face of the box and fold over the sides.  Henry covered the entire front of the box with glue.  He seems to really enjoy using the glue stick…so much so that I started to worry that the fumes may be contributing to his joy.

Henry then placed the foil on the front face and smoothed out the foil surface.  He glued the sides and folded the foil over the edges and in around the opening at the base.  We then did the same on the back face and sides with the second sheet of foil.

Your box should now be covered in foil – except for the opening at the base.  With glee, Henry broke a hole in the foil where the mouth was to be and folded the the excess inside to reveal the big rectangle mouth.  Our alien is now taking shape.

Next…. cut out the eyes (any shape and number) out of the white cardboard – Henry asked for 2 square eyes and he then coloured in black pupils and glued them onto the alien’s face.   With the black marker, I drew a line of sharp teeth on the white cardboard and cut these out.  Henry placed a thin line of glue on the top/flat side of the teeth and I fixed them to the inside of the box at the opening of the mouth.

Your alien friend is now very close to being finished.

Then final step….

Once the glue has dried and the teeth are firmly in place, your little helper can put their best puppet paw into their red sock and insert their sock covered hand into the alien.  The red sock makes a great tongue.  Coupled with the evil laughter of my munchkin, our new alien friend had us in stitches!

Happy Happy Autumn Days

sticks, leaves + twine

Bliss!  It’s autumn in Melbourne and before my little one stomps on ALL the crunchy leaves, I devised a little autumn mission for my darling.

What you need: Autumn Leaves, Twiggy Branch/Stick, Twine & Scissors

Getting started: In Ugg boots, winter woollies and with bag in hand, we found an avenue lined with big old trees and starting collecting.  We filled our bag with autumn leaf booty – small ones, big ones, red ones and gold ones.  When we were content with the season’s offerings, we reached up and removed a big twiggy branch.  Our chosen branch had lots of twiggy fingers and was approximately 65cm in length.

Back at home we took off our woolly layers and took charge of the kitchen table, spreading out our findings.  Henry picked out 15 of his favourite leaves and we put the others in a dish to keep (a bowl of autumn leaves also makes for a lovely table centre piece).

With the point of the scissors, I then made a small hole towards the centre of each of the leaves.

Henry unravelled some twine and I cut four lengths, ranging from 40cm – 60cm in length.  I then tied a knot on the end of each length.

Henry threaded the first leaf on and gently pushed it down to the knot.  I then tied another knot, approx 10 – 15cm up and we threaded on another leaf.  We repeated this until there were 4 leaves on the twine – each held in place by a knot beneath.  Then we tied the top of the length of twine to a point on the branch.    We repeated this step so that the branch had four varying lengths of twine hanging from it’s twig fingers – each threaded with 4 – 6 leaves of varying colours and spaced in an uneven and haphazard formation.

The end result was truly divine and we have had ours on display since last autumn and it adorns our lounge room wall.  It really has got better with time and and so many people comment on its beauty.  Best of all, it serves as a reminder of the day we spent together traipsing through the leaves.

This would also make a lovely mobile for a little bubba’s room.

To Hang: We used an old picture rail hook (as pictured) but you could easily create a loop with the twine and fix to a wall hook.

Please try this with your little person and let me know how you fare.  I hope you have as wonderful a time as Henry and I did.